- America – Neil Diamond
- Americano – Lady Gaga
- Beneath, Between and Behind – Rush
- British Intelligence – Jamie T.
- Coming to America – K’NAAN
- Deportees – Woody Guthrie
- El Coyote – Guy Clark
- För Alla Namn Vi Inte Får Använda – The Knife
- Icky Thump – The White Stripes
- Illegal Alien – Genesis
- Laugh and Be Happy – Randy Newman
- Matamoros Banks – Bruce Springsteen
- Mein Land – Rammstein
- Migra – Santana
- Miss Little Havana – Gloria Estefan
- Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) – Billy Joel
- My People – The Presets
- One In A Million – Guns N’ Roses
- Prayer Of The Refugee – Rise Against
- Refugee – Lostboy! AKA
- Sexy People (The FIAT Song) – Arianna
- Sign In Stranger – Steely Dan
- The Blanket of Night – Elbow
- The Immigrant – Neil Sedaka
- The Refugee – U2
- The Royal Scam – Steely Dan
- Ukip Calypso – Mike Read
- Waving Flags – British Sea Power
- Who’s Gonna Build Your Wall? – Tom Russell
- Without A Face – Rage Against the Machine
You may be expecting this post to be about Nigel Farage striking a deal with Robert Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz. He’s a Polish MEP so right wing the Front National want nothing to do with him. He’s now in a parliamentary group with Ukip, and it’s saved them their EU funding. This post isn’t about that. This is about something more important: music.
On Songfacts there’s a list of songs that deal with immigration. It’s a bit out of date because Mike Read’s Ukip Calypso isn’t on there, but I want to set that right and place Mike Read in his proper context. Jamie T’s song is a lament for a friend who’s girlfriend couldn’t get a visa so his friend had to marry her. Woody Guthrie wrote about a plane of Mexican deportees which crashed, killing everyone. Rage Against the Machine wrote about a Mexican trying to enter the UK but finding a wall there. Tom Russell points out its probably immigrants building that wall too. And so on.
If you look at the above list you can see song after song praising immigrants or lamenting their suffering. But there are a couple which are anti-immigrant like the Ukip Calypso. Genesis’s Illegal Alien is nominally sympathetic, but Phil Collin’s does a cod-Mexican accent which is at least a little distasteful. Axl Rose is the only real contender for Ukip company, he doesn’t like “immigrants and faggots,” so he’d be perfect to be a Ukip Councillor somewhere.
So take solace, in popular music, if not popular news, immigrants are still presented as brave heroes, tragic victims, hard workers or just normal people with stories of their own. I was surprised to find any nominally anti-immigrant songs, bemoaning “illegal immigrants in every town” in a bad Jamaican accent is definitely the exception. Even Great White Records didn’t release many songs. So go ahead and Vote Ukip, vote for Cllr Rose.